Culture

Traditional Christmas Latino Meals And The History Behind Them

Latinos have played an pivotal role in American cuisine since the very beginning. But the wealth and complexity of Latin food traditions goes far beyond Taco Tuesdays and happy hour margaritas. Each Latin American country boasts its own unique  flavors, and while several of the same dishes exist in different forms throughout North, South, and Central America, each culture’s recipes are distinctly its own. The real beauty about Latin cuisine in the US is that these distinct cultural identities all have their place in our country’s vast gastronomic canon, maintaining their original shape while also merging into a stunning mezcla of vibrant new culinary customs.

While family tradition is super important in the Latino kitchen—with recipes being passed down from generation to generation—many old school dishes are being adapted in lieu of modern culinary trends.

And this makes sense. From food to music to fashion, cultural exchange is how new innovations and creative ideas come to life. But it is especially common in the realm of cuisine—we need food to survive, after all, and we are always seeking new ways to make this basic necessity a bit more interesting and enjoyable. In places like the US, where countless cultures coexist and overlap, it’s inevitable that different culinary traditions would borrow from each other and coalesce to make something totally fresh and distinct.

So what are some of the most classic Latino food traditions? How have they morphed and changed over time? And how have they stayed the same?

Tamales

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Tamales are a quintessential dish in many Latin American countries, though they differ from place to place. Yet the tradition of preparing tamales communally and collaboratively stands the test of both time and geography, as it is so often a group effort guided by la abuela’s magical, age-old tamale skills. With ancient Mesoamerican origins, the tamale will always be the root of blossoming Latinx cuisine—there’s nothing like the smell of steam rising from the tamalera and filling la cocina with goodness. They are the ultimate comfort food, and they’ve maintained their integrity, as they are too classic to change in any major sense. And the best way to eat tamales? With a steamy cup of champurrado in hand.

Guacamole

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Guacamole is a beloved concoction all over the world, though it originated in South Central Mexico several thousand years ago. Over time, it evolved from a prized Aztec dish to a ubiquitous and highly coveted snack that—in the US, anyway—spikes in popularity during certain events, like the Superbowl. Because of its simplicity, guacamole serves as a canvas for culinary creativity, with several different incarnations since its original blend of avocados, herbs, and spices. With guacamole, there opportunities to experiment are truly endless.

Micheladas

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The michelada has also evolved into a canvas of sorts, inviting people to create elaborate versions of this classic Mexican drink. Similar to the popular Bloody Mary, micheladas can sometimes serve as a whole meal, with entire salads floating atop the base of spicy, salty beer. Often, different types of mariscos are added, from shrimp to crab legs to octopus to oysters. Sometimes the michelada is adorned with varias frutas, like watermelon, pineapple, or blackberries. And occasionally, micheladas llevan all of the above! Like guacamole, the possibilities son infinitos.

Ceviche

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Some version of ceviche is made all over Latin America, but it is widely believed to originate in Peru—it is certainly synonymous with Peruvian cuisine, and is considered a national Peruvian dish. Its defining feature is some type of raw fish that is cured by citrus juices, then spiced with various seasonings. In Costa Rica, the featured fish is typically tilapia or corvina, although mahi-mahi, shark and marlin are also commonly used. In Mexico and some parts of Central America, it is often served with tostadas. El Salvador and Nicaragua produce a version called ceviche de concha negra, which is dark in color and quite picante. And in the United States, its renditions are just as diverse, highlighting everything from shrimp to scallops to octopus.

Maiz (En Todas Sus Formas)

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We’ve already mentioned tamales and champurrado, but corn is such a widespread culinary staple throughout Latin America, that it had to be repeated. Not only does corn form tortillas and masa, which are the base for a wide variety of different snacks and dishes (tacos, tostadas, tamales, etc.), but corn also appears in ancient drinks like Peruvian chicha and atole from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. It’s the highlight of that fantastic Mexican street snack, elote (btw, if you’ve never had elote helado, está buení simo and you need to find some ASAP). Latin American food would be a totally different beast without corn, so we’ve got to sing its praises!

Moms Are Sharing Videos Of How To Make Their Comida For Their College-Bound Kids After A Mom’s Burrito-Folding Video Went Viral

Culture

Moms Are Sharing Videos Of How To Make Their Comida For Their College-Bound Kids After A Mom’s Burrito-Folding Video Went Viral

Michelle Gonzaes / YouTube

Last week, California Polytechnic State University student, April Olvera posted a video sent to her by her mamá, and the video went viral, already wracking up nearly ten million views, and nearly one million likes in less than seven days.

Olvera, away at college, texted her mom, Silvia Dominguez, to say that she didn’t know how to fold a burrito, and her mom sent her a video that contained a soothing video-folding lesson.

While some couldn’t help but wonder why Olvera didn’t know how to fold a burro, her mamí’s special brand of cariño shown in the forty-second burrito-folding lesson was the focus of the comments that followed.

Other Latinas needed the lesson too!

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Another Latina Twitter user, couldn’t get over the way Olvera’s mother, Silvia, repeated the lesson.

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Two guys commented on Olvera’s mom’s soothing voice, but we think @carys_arsenic nailed it.

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And this guy too who points out Ms. Dominguez’s calm in the face of a world that seems to be coming apart at the seams.

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When Olvera told her mother that her video went viral and inspired so many positive comments, Dominguez said, “Maybe it’s not the burrito. Maybe it’s about family and love.”

Burrito-folding-lesson mom, Silvia Dominguez, speaks Spanish in the video, smiling the whole time, clearly happy to be able to help her daughter away at college with anything, using her own phone propped up on the counter to capture the lesson.

“Okay,” she says in Spanish, holding up a corn tortilla, “Imagine that this is my flour tortilla. Add what you’re going to use, fold it from this side, fold it from that side, and roll it. Did you see that?

And then she unrolls the burro and repeats the steps: It’s a circle. Fold it here, fold it here, and roll it. Nice! Okay, bye. I love you.”

We also like how Burrito-Folding-Lesson Mom is even helping grown-ass men.

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@rsencion
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And because imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, here’s a video made by the author for her son on his way to college in the fall.

Watch the video below.

READ: Yalitza Aparicio Brought Her Mother To The Oscars And Other Incredible Things Latinas Did Last Night

McDonald’s Now Has Quarter Pounder Scented Candles That You Definitely Didn’t Ask For

Culture

McDonald’s Now Has Quarter Pounder Scented Candles That You Definitely Didn’t Ask For

Celin/ Pinterest

You know that friend whose car always smells like the food they ate the night before? You know the one, it’s the same friend who also has a collection of takeout Wendy’s, Taco Bell and McDonald bags shoved into the pocket of their backseats. Well now, you too can be that friend. Thanks to McDonald’s you can make literally anywhere smell like oily takeout.

McDonald’s announced this week that it will make a six-pack of scented candles that will smell like your favorite Quarter Pounder ingredients.

McDonald's six candles come in all the scents you'd expect.

Anyone familiar with the key ingredients in the beloved QP knows these scents include bun, ketchup, pickles, cheese, beef, and ooh baby onions. In honor of the Quarter Pounder’s 50th birthday, McDonald’s is also releasing a line of merchandise that includes calendars, lockets, mittens, shirts, and pins.

Draw up a romantic bath for you and yours that smells like an oily stove and pickles by getting the items here on the McDonald’s fan club website.